The agenda for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ upcoming 2022 Annual Retreat has something brand new placed at the very end.
A motion included on that agenda calls for Guilford County to give $2 million in taxpayer money to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum at 134 S. Elm St. in Greensboro.
Usually, when the county gives money to non-profits, it does so in the annual budgets that are adopted each June.
This item, which has appeared out of the blue, is sponsored by Commissioner Carlvena Foster, the Vice-chair of the Board of Commissioners.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was one of the founders of the museum and, over the years, Alston has been a strong advocate for the museum that highlights the struggle for civil rights and the famous Sit-In Movement that began at the building’s lunch counter in 1960.
The agenda item reads as follows, “Consider approval of a grant request to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum totaling $2,000,000 to include: $1,000,000 towards closing costs on the building located at 134 South Elm Street and 2.2 acres of property located at the corner of West Market and 100 South Elm Street, and $200,000 per year for the following five (5) years to complete property acquisition.”
The 2021-2022 Guilford County budget adopted last June will need to be amended to include the first $1 million, while the remainder of the money will be given to the museum in future county budgets.
The motion continues: “Upon approval, direct staff to take any and all necessary actions, including budget amendments to execute the grant. The property acquisition supported by this grant request will allow the expansion of museum exhibit space and operations, and support museum efforts to have the ICRCM property designated as a World Heritage Site and included on a list of 10 American Civil Rights landmarks nominated by the United States.”
The commissioners are scheduled to approve the move as one of the very last business items on Friday, March 18 – the second day of the board’s two-day annual retreat.
Alston, the board’s chairman, is a seasoned politician who rarely, if ever, includes an important item on the agenda unless there are enough votes to pass it. That means there’s a virtual certainty the board will approve the $2 million grant for the museum on Friday.